Miscalculated Risk

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Monday, January 31, 2005
Miscalculated Risk: A Kim Aldrich Mystery by Jinny McDonnell

This is from a girl detective series I had never heard of - Kim Aldrich is a secretary at a big New York insurance agency. As you may guess from the nature of the book, Kim is a bit of a busybody and of course gets herself embroiled in a case of fraud, murder, and yes, adoption. Miscalculated Risk is apparently the first in the series. I'm not sure how many there were total, but I know there are at least three. I found the first two at Goodwill and found reference to the third on the internet. I have a lot more to say about the Girl Detective genre (Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Connie Blair, Cherry Ames, etc.) but that is more than I'm up to at the moment. So, more about Kim Aldrich - here's the blurb from the back of the book...

KIM ALDRICH...smart, beautiful secretary for an international insurance firm...living for the day she can become a full-fledged investigator for the firm...action-loving, curious, and courageous. Is it any wonder that mystery, adventure--and romance--just naturally seek her out? This time, Kim finds the money-hungry murderer only after near fatal danger, when she is led into taking a MISCALCULATED RISK

Kim has a lot of the usual Girl Detective traits - curious, headstrong, doting family (with dead mother), etc. What separates her a little bit is some of her particulars - her father is an agent in the FBI, her brother is a war hero and airline pilot, her sister we don't hear anything about in the first book (because Kim didn't need her for anything), but I suspect she will turn out to have some valuable skill later in the series. Kim is probably about 19 or 20, and drives a triumph (yeah, I know Nancy Drew drove a sports car too). This series started in 1972, so it has *some* feminist advances on novels written back in the 40's - for example she has a pretty liberal social life, and has a real job that isn't just helping around the family business. She and a lawyer character in this novel have a romance, but she abruptly cuts it off ON THE LAST PAGE, no doubt to free her up for the ski instructor or whoever awaits her in the next novel. On the other hand, there seemed to be a lot of weird girly deference to her male boss - but maybe that's just because she's so young. I don't know. Reading these books (most of the girl detective books, really) is like stepping into a time machine. Cars are different, methods of detection are so different (for example, having to wait until Monday to go to the courthouse to get information that could be obtained in 30 seconds online now), the kind of 'dressing' for lunch or dinner that was obligatory, not optional -- I find it all very interesting, which is good because it's not like it is hard to figure out who the baddy is in most of these novels.

The covers are really great though - on Miscalculated Risk, Kim is in a wet-suit (sort of James Bondish), and despite the fact that she is in the water and has her mask pushed up on her head, her hair is fluffy dry. There is panic in her violet (yes, VIOLET) eyes as a menacing dark hand reaches out toward her. It's the natural heir of those old 60's gothic novel covers with the governess running away from the big scary masion in her nightie while looking over her shoulder at a menacing wolf on an outcropping of rock. Except Kim would no doubt know some sort of sleeper-hold for large animals that her FBI Dad had thoughtfully taught her just in case.
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